Kenneth W. Ford Receives the 2006 AAPT Oersted Award
W. Ford, an Honorary Member of Sigma Pi Sigma, is the recipient
of the 2006 American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Oersted
Award. The Oersted Medal is the Association’s most prestigious
award, and recognizes notable contributions to the teaching of
physics. The award consists of $10,000 prize, an inscribed medal,
travel expenses to the AAPT Winter Meeting where the award is
presented, and a certificate.
As is tradition, Dr. Ford presented an address at the Ceremonial
Session of the AAPT Winter Meeting after being presented with
the award. The meeting was held in Anchorage, AK, on January 24,
2006. His lecture was titled "Love Them to Death." In
the program notes for the meeting, Dr. Ford said:
My teaching odyssey has extended from graduate students
to 7th-graders. At every level, I have loved the physics and
the teaching and the students. Real affection for students,
I suggest, goes a long way toward ensuring their success, and
your own. When you really want them to share some of your excitement,
they will. Along the way, I have acquired a few convictions.
One is that we need to work harder at overcoming our still too-common
priesthood syndrome. Another is that teaching physics to 9th-graders
makes great good sense.
Dr. Ford, who lives in Philadelphia, PA, is the retired Executive
Director and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute
of Physics. He did graduate work in theoretical nuclear physics
at Princeton University, and participated in the crash hydrogen
bomb program. His first academic appointment was at Indiana University.
He spent a year at Heisenberg’s Institute as a Fulbright
Scholar and a research year at Los Alamos, 1957-1958.
Ford has taught at Indiana University and at Brandeis University.
He has held administrative positions at the University of California-Irvine,
New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, and the University
of Maryland. He was the American Physical Society (APS) Education
Officer prior to becoming Executive Director of the American Institute
of Physics from 1987 to 1993. His book, co-authored with John
A. Wheeler, Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics,
won the 1999 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Prize.
He is also the author of The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for
Everyone, published by the Harvard University Press.
Dr. Ford was instrumental in the creation of the Sigma Pi Sigma
Development Committee, and served on that committee for several
years following its formation. He was inducted as an Honorary
Member of Sigma Pi Sigma at the 2004 Quadrennial Congress in Albuquerque,
NM, where he was one of the featured speakers.